The military's push to improve its communication systems with beyond-line-of-sight capabilities is spurring companies to expand their satcom on-the-move offerings.
One of the Pentagon's most high-profile satellite communication efforts is the mobile user objective system, or MUOS. Lockheed Martin is providing the Navy with technology that will act via a constellation of five satellites and four ground stations.
Designed to allow servicemembers to connect globally, the program is intended to replace the service's legacy ultra-high frequency communication system.
David Vasiloff, Lockheed Martin's MUOS program manager, said the technology went through multiservice operational test and evaluation in October and is expected to reach full operational capability this year
According to Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, soldiers and Marines are already able to use the platform for humanitarian responses, disaster assistance and training. The service is now working to use MUOS in tactical environments.
The program is expected to provide capabilities that are not available via legacy communication systems. These include remote computer access, and the ability to transmit imagery files and group calls, Vasiloff said. It is also expected to provide better audio performance and voice recognition.
"We have a global military cellular network, so you can now make a call from any point in the world to any other point in the world utilizing MUOS," he said.
These features are especially important for military operations, which may take place in congested cities and other challenging terrain such as places with tree canopies, which can often hinder satellite communications, he noted.
Legacy UHF systems have more limitations than MUOS, he noted.
"You'll be able to get [better] call quality in those areas as well," Vasiloff said. "MUOS becomes more valuable in stressed environments."
Although MUOS is a Navy program, it can provide satcom on-the-move capabilities to all the services, Vasiloff said. Multiservice operational test and evaluation induded participants from both the Army and the Marine Corps, according to a Defense Department press release. The Marine Corps has already begun fielding terminals.
There are around 50,000 terminals already in use across the military that could be upgraded for MUOS, he said.
To facilitate the transition to the newer technology, the satellites are able to support both the legacy UHF communication systems and the new...